Day Eight: Day in Marrakesh [June 2nd 2013, Sunday]

Worcester State University Faculty Led Morocco Program – 2013 (Day 8)

It is Sunday, Day 8 of our travels. I am starting to get a little sad knowing that our trip is almost over and that we will be boarding a plane home soon. We are going to make the most of our last few days in Morocco!

—- *Blog Photographs are Courtesy of Christopher Lippmann, one of thirteen WSU Morocco 2013 Travelers | **Video Links are short ‘clips’ uploaded from the entire WSU Group to our WSU Flickr Account to enhance the blog experience. —-

Today we left our Ryad Mogador Hotel and we had a guide to take us around the city to teach us about Marrakesh and its history. Marrakesh is called “The Red City” because of the ochre color of the buildings. We learned that Marrakesh is the Capital of Berbers and the first inhabitants of Morocco lived here. This city is one of Four imperial cities: Rabat, Fes, Meknes, and Marrakesh. I find that it is amazing that we have been given the opportunity to see all of the imperial cities in the past few days on this journey. We also learned that Marrakesh has only 65 days of rain in a year — 300+ days of sun. This is my kind of place to live!

We did a lot of walking to see many different cites around the city. We learned that the holes in the walls of the city were for scaffolding to build it up. There are more than 10 gates in Marrakesh including the Bab J’deed “New Gate”. Someone in our group had a good question about the calls to prayer … “What if someone is deaf and they cannot hear the call?” Our guide told us that a white flag is raised on top of the towers as a visual sign that it is time for the call to prayer. This was so interesting.

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We walked past the ruins of an ancient mosque. When we questioned why they tore the old mosque down, our guide replied that they build the new one right next to the old one because it was not “aligned properly with Mecca”. Mohamed and the guide told us a little bit more about the calls to prayer and that they follow the rising/setting of the sun, and that it is not at any exact period of time, it can vary.

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Gardens in Marrakesh.

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We learned new Arabic today: “Yell-AH!” = “Let’s Go!”

Our group visited a cemetery where we saw servant tombs outside of the mosque. There are no names carved anywhere. The slabs are covered in beautiful yellow, turquoise, royal blue and white diamond tiles. Very near the servants tombs there was the Tomb of Three Arches where the women in the royal family where buried.

A short video clip of some architecture walking through the Bahia Palace. Video Clip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9693133729/

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Next we visited the Melah, or Jewish Quarter. Within the Jewish Quarter was the Bahia Palace or “Palais Bahia” where there were beautiful central gardens. Bahia actually means ‘beautiful’. The Bahia Palace was built in 1984 when the grand vizier married four wives, and the most beautiful was named Bahia. Down a corridor we found the Harem Quarter where the vizier’s 24 concubines and 4 wives lived together. The architectural style is Spano-moorish gardens.

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Gardens inside of the Bahia Palace.
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Listening to our guide give us history lessons about the architecture in Marrakesh.

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Intricate tile work.
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Carved plaster inside of the arches of the Bahia Palace.

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A group photo… with Christopher behind his lens, as always.
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Weathered painting, but still vibrant.
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Olivia, Casandra, Pat, Tim, Victoria, Christopher, Joe and Beth catch a little tiny rest under a bit of shade in the courtyard.

Inside of the bustling city we stopped at a shop called Rosa Huille. This was my favorite store. We were given a presentation of spices at this shop. We learned so much!! Ras el Hanout is ‘heat of shop’ which is a 35 spices blend for meats. Moroccan Curry and cumin, chili pepper, Saffron lipstick balm, orange blossom and jasmine oils… the list of items in this store is endless.

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Upon entering Rosa Huille shop, two woman sat grinding nuts to draw out their butter and oils.
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A man gives us detailed explanation of numerous uses for each item that Rosa Huille sells in their shop. You can see many canisters on the shelves all around the room.

A Video of this room and our presenter starts his informative demonstration of the items sold at Rosa Huille. Video Clip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9696637870/

Black seed was one of my favorite things to purchase and bring home, it is great for the sinuses, asthma, snoring… there were different kinds of argan oil – some for cooking others for using in hair. Pat got a massage with some oils that Rosa Huille was selling. A few girls received a ‘clavicle’ massage.

AJ also ate a handful of cumin to help with his indigestion that he had been battling during the trip. This shop was incredible and we all spent quite a bit of time at the end of the presentation in the check out line.

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Olivia and Casandra look on as AJ prepares himself before he swallows a handful of cumin.

AJ eats a handful of cumin to help his digestive system. Video Clip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9696628482/

Afterward, we went to a few other shops that had incredible wares. Some of the shops were very pricey but it was interesting to see different and unique things. We also stopped at a rug shop but nobody bought anything. I wish we had saved up more money for a rug. Maybe next time!

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Moroccan treasures.
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Handmade Moroccan leather shoes in a rainbow of colors.
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A superior example of metal-work molded into the image of a bird of prey.
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A treasure box with pieces of bone and semi-precious stone inlay.
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Various ceremonial daggers on display with vintage looking metal work.

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Our stop in the rug shop. An image from the ground floor looking up into the building to the ceiling.
Notice the many layers on the walls and ceilings of ornamental tile work.
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Some examples of rugs for us to purchase. Hand tied and loomed.

Checking out the Rug Shop — Video Clip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9696623346/

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More vibrant rugs to choose from.

We went to lunch and had the option of eating American food. Our table ate traditional tajine dishes to keep with the culture while visiting. Let me tell you something, if you go with Worcester State University on this trip, fully immerse yourself into the trip! Even though Mohamed gave us the option of eating American food, why bother? You are only in Morocco for 10 days and will be in the U.S for the rest of your life. Be adventurous and get something out of the ordinary! Okay, I have said my piece. We kept asking our waiter for more bread!! Meg yelled for more bread – we were famished!

Everyone wanted to go back to the square after lunch to do some more shopping. AJ and everyone else became kings at bartering. There was one point when Joe came back and showed us all of the cool things he was able to get for next to nothing. We were pros!

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Crimson died wool looped and hung in the sun to dry in the alleyways of Marrakesh.

We walked around the city some more and saw people dying different fabrics in handmade dyes. The fabric and strings were hanging from the walkways drying in the sun. It was very interesting to see where the materials were made from the start.

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So many textiles and colors in Marrakesh!
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A child’s handprint on a wall in Marrakesh.

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After our shopping excursion we went back to the hotel to have dinner. There was a local event for teenagers in the hotel so it was very crowded and loud. It was interesting to see how they were dressed. We were going to go to the hammam but we ran out of time. Mohamed has vowed to get us to one before we leave, he says it is something we cannot miss out on experiencing.

“Remember people, it’s 12 o’clock here. So let’s be as loud as possible.” – Pat

At night, we visited the Ali Baba show. We were not sure what to expect!

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Mohamed and I (Beth) posing for a quick photo on our walk through the caves to get to the Ali Baba show.

We sat and had nuts and sodas while Joe got up and danced with some singers that were going table to table under the tent. There were thick, brightly colored carpet coverings everywhere.

Dinner and singers walked around visiting the tables. Here is a video of us having a repast and listening to the cymbals and seeing the dancers. Video Clip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9693375415/

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Joe is persuaded to get up and dance with the performers at the Ali Baba show.

A video clip of the Actors performing on horseback during the Ali Baba show: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9696578708/

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Moroccan musicians.

A Video Clip of the Ali Baba Performers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9696546750/

Outside, there was an oval arena where Moroccan performers raced up and down firing their guns acting out a story. There were trick riders and a belly dancer. We had the best seats in the house, right up front to see the action. There was a “magic carpet” up on cables that “floated” down and over the arena at the end of the show. The show was very stylized and did not help the typically “Moroccan stigma” of what some Americans think of the country, but it was fun and entertaining. I enjoyed myself and the music was awesome and the people were super friendly.

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As part of the performance, there was a bridal caravan.
In the distance you can see a white and blue carriage.

At the end of the show, we were thanked for coming with a flaming finale.

Video Clip:http://www.flickr.com/photos/97085118@N08/9693311165/

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Kayla passed out on Meghan’s shoulder on the way back to the hotel.

Bleary-eyed, we made our way back to our hotel. Another day — tomorrow!

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About wheresmrmerlin

I am an English Graduate from Worcester State University with a background in various things. I attended college at Atlantic Union College as a Biology Major with my heart set on becoming a Veterinarian. I love all animals - I am owned by two cats; Yoda and Sparta, a leopard gecko named Joe, and a ball python named Voldemort. During my first year as an Undergraduate student at AUC, one of my favorite professors lamented the fact that I was such a creative writer and pleaded with me to further a career with writing instead of science. Her words rooted into my soul. The next year I transferred to Fitchburg State University, still a Biology Major. Halfway through the year I made the commitment to switch my concentration to teaching Secondary Education in English. I attended FSU for a few years off and on. I transferred my degree to Worcester State University to be closer to home. Seven long college years later, I finally graduated with an Undergraduate Degree in English from WSU in 2011. After much debate and internal struggle, I returned to school in the Fall of 2012 to continue my education at WSU in their Graduate Non-Profit Management Program. I hope to finish my Program with WSU by 2015. Right now I am busy writing, working, teaching my cats good manners, crafting and planning a wedding for next summer. I look forward to travelling more, now that I have gotten the travel bug from visiting Morocco this past summer through an Annual Study Abroad Faculty Led Program that Worcester State University offers. It was truly a life changing experience that allowed me to make many good friends. I cannot wait to see what other adventures life brings my way.
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